2018 Distinguished Alumni Award Honorees | Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
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Presidential Distinguished Alumni

Image of Cassie Lackey, PT

Cassie Lackey, PT, ATC-r, CPT, ’85
School of Health Professions

Fort Worth, Texas

After graduating in 1985 as a member of the School of Health Professions' inaugural physical therapy class, Cassie Lackey, PT, ATC-r, CPT, went on to work with orthopedic and sport-related injuries at the Medical and Surgical Clinic of Fort Worth, Texas. In 1989, Lackey launched SporTherapy, also in Fort Worth. SporTherapy provides high-quality outpatient physical therapy with a focus on biomechanical sound evaluation and hands-on treatment of a wide variety of orthopedic, sport and work-related conditions.  

Since inception, SporTherapy has grown to include seven separate clinics in the Fort Worth area, with plans to open several more clinics in the years to come. Lackey has been recognized as a top female entrepreneur by Business Press while her company has been designated multiple years as a Top 100 Private Company in Fort Worth by Forth Worth Business. SporTherapy was named as one of 12 finalists for the 2019 Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce's Forte Award, recognizing small businesses.

While growing her company, Lackey has stayed active in supporting the field of physical therapy. She has promoted evidence-based practice both in her clinics as well as through the publication of peer-reviewed research. Lackey also serves as a lifelong member of the American Physical Therapy Association as well as the Texas Physical Therapy Association.

Lackey supports TTUHSC students and graduates alike by providing them with numerous employment opportunities and regularly hosting multiple students from TTUHSC’s Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program as they persue their full-time clinical internships.

 In 2014, the Lackey family established the Lackey Family Practice Scholarship Endowment at TTUHSC. This endowment provides scholarships to students pursuing their DPT education at TTUHSC.

Distinguished Alumni

Image of Yi-Ping Li, PhD

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
Doctorate of Philosophy Award

Yi-Ping Li, Ph.D., ’90
University of Texas Medical School at Houston
Houston, Texas

In 1985, Yi-Ping Li, Ph.D., traveled from Shanghai, China, to Lubbock, Texas, in order to pursue doctoral studies at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. He now resides in Houston, Texas, where he is a professor, with tenure, at the University of Texas Health Science Center. There Li studies the manifestation of cancer-associated cachexia, a lethal metabolic disorder observed in over 50% of cancer patients.

As a graduate student in the Department of Pharmacology and Neuroscience, Li was an excellent student and was in the top of his class. After graduation, Li participated in a four-year postgraduate fellowship at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Department of Biochemistry in Dallas, Texas. There he studied the regulation and expression of the human choline acetyltransferase gene.

Today, Li’s research efforts on cachexia have produced over 60 refereed publications and numerous abstracts. Li’s scientific reputation has been accentuated by his achievements, which have been quoted by numerous researchers worldwide. He has been invited to present and give seminars around the globe, including in Canada, Holland, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan and Mainland China. Li is also a reviewer for 12 scientific journals and serves as a review editor and an editorial board member for two journals.

While Li is well-respected in his field, he always takes time to speak with peers and students after many of his seminars and presentations. He engages with his students as well and teaches courses in the medical, dental and graduate schools at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Li is also involved in numerous university committees and sponsors 19 postdoctoral fellows.

Li has been awarded more than $9 million in grants throughout his career. Funding sources include the National Institutes of Health (currently he has three ROI NIH grants), University of Texas Center, American Heart Association and American Lung Association. He also has been a member of numerous grant review panels since 1999.

Overall, Li’s research has led to possibilities of having discovered the mechanism of action as to how cancer and related diseases cause the muscle wasting (cachexia) process. With this newfound information, Li is shifting his research program to the etiology of cancer cachexia, and these results may lead to a therapeutic strategy giving hope and potential research relief to patients.


Image of Susan Lingle, MRC

School of Health Professions
Department of Clinical Counseling and Mental Health Award

Susan Lingle, MRC, ’15
Rehabilitation Counselor
Serenity Foundation of Texas
Abilene, Texas

After graduating from the School of Health Professions with a master's in rehabilitation counseling, Susan Lingle, MRC, earned her license as a professional counselor in Texas. However, it was not an easy road. Lingle had to go as far as asking her state representative to advocate for her with the Texas license board.

Lingle then made it her mission to help other graduates in Texas from the TTUHSC Master of Science in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling program obtain their licenses as well by serving as a mentor during the extensive licensing process.

Recently, Lingle graduated from the University of Houston with her second master's degree, this one in social work. She hopes to eventually transition into mental health and substance abuse counseling. She lives in Abilene, Texas, where she works for the Serenity Foundation of Texas. She is passionate about her work and enjoys helping others.

Lingle is a Red Raider through and through, and her dedication to her profession and TTUHSC students is outstanding.


Image of Kyle Spearman, MD

School of Health Professions
Department of Laboratory Sciences and Primary Care Award

Kyle Spearman, M.D., CLS, '15, '11
Teaching Assistant, Resident
University of Washington School of Medicine
Seattle, Washington

Kyle Spearman, M.D., CLS, earned degrees from the School of Medicine and the School of Health Professions' Clinical Laboratory Science Program. After graduating from medical school, Spearman interned at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, before becoming a radiology resident and teaching assistant at the University of Washington Medical School.  

Spearman is known as a hard-working physician who shows kindness and respect to all students and sincerely wants them to succeed. His expertise and work ethic is outstanding. In 2018, he received the University of Washington Thoracic Imaging Section’s Outstanding Resident Award.

Overall, Spearman is an exceptional young man who values teaching and educational success.


image of Troy Ward

School of Health Professions
Department of Healthcare Management and Leadership Award

Troy Ward, MSHA, RRT, '17
Division Director of Cardiopulmonary and Neurology
Midland Memorial Hospital
Midland, Texas

Troy Ward, MSHA, RRT, has a career in health care that spans 25 years; the last 17 of those have been with Midland Memorial Hospital as Division Director of Cardiopulmonary and Neurology. He earned a Master of Science in Healthcare Administration at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and is a registered respiratory therapist.

Ward’s No. 1 priority is the patient experience. As a leader in health care, he ensures his staff is ready and willing to adopt that as a priority, too. Collaboration is Ward’s ultimate approach to leadership because it supports shared input from leaders and frontline staff for the good of the patient. His team combines collaboration and practice expertise with technological skills to continue raising the bar for patient care. For example, his respiratory therapists are licensed to collect and assess relevant patient data such as blood gas measurements. His team is also the first respiratory-driven vascular access team in Texas to place central venous catheters.

Ward promotes an approachable leadership style: one that encourages communication and sharing of ideas. He uses several communication strategies to keep his team connected including face-to-face dialogue, making rounds with his staff and maintaining a fun-loving attitude that is never too serious unless it needs to be.

Embodying Midland Health’s Culture of Ownership, the hospital’s core values, Ward leads his team in equal celebrations of success and lessons from failure.


Cherry Wright

School of Health Professions
Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences Award

Cherry Wright, ’70
Chair, Financial Board
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
Kerrville, Texas

Before her retirement, Cherry Wright practiced as a speech-language pathologist for skilled nursing facilities, Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and over 40 schools. Now she serves as a mentor for the Texas Speech-Language Hearing Association (TSHA) Leadership Academy and stays involved by serving several speech, language and hearing committees. 

Throughout her career, Wright has served as president of the TSHA and vice president of the board for Any Baby Can, an organization in Kerrville, Texas, that provides resources for families of children with special needs and chronic medical conditions. She has chaired a joint committee between the TSHA and the Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education since 2003, served on numerous committees for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is currently the chair of ASHA’s Financial Planning Board.

In recognition of Wright’s contribution to speech-language pathology in Texas, the Texas Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation has established a scholarship in her name.


Image of Leigh Ann Jenkins, MD

School of Medicine
Distinguished Alumni Award

Leigh Ann Jenkins, M.D., '83
Cardiology Fellowship Program Director
TTUHSC School of Medicine
Lubbock, Texas

Leigh Ann Jenkins, M.D., has built a successful academic career in medical education as well as extensive experience in patient care, mentoring and advising. She also is accomplished as a researcher, with 49 publications and national presentations. After graduating from the School of Medicine, Jenkins stayed for a year to complete her residency before going to Louisiana State University in Shreveport, Louisiana, to complete a cardiology fellowship.

In 1989, Jenkins returned to Lubbock and has served in numerous leadership roles since then. She currently serves as the program director for the cardiology fellowship program in the School of Medicine J.T. and Margaret Talkington Department of Internal Medicine.

Without Jenkins’ “can-do” attitude and her tenacity for results-oriented outcomes, internal medicine at TTUHSC would not be where it is today. Countless times during her career Jenkins stepped up and assumed leadership roles when the department was struggling. She also has generated positive actions and quality improvements on many fronts. 

During her three decades in the field, Jenkins has received a number of honors and awards. She is a fellow with the American College of Physicians, the American College of Cardiology and a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. Jenkins has received the YWCA Women of Excellence Award, the Girl Scouts of America Women of Distinction award, the School of Medicine Dean’s Distinguished Service Award and won Teacher of the Year twice. She is fully committed to her patients and has some of the best metrics in cardiology today.


Image of Felix Morales, MD

School of Medicine
Distinguished Alumni Award

Felix G. Morales, M.D., '07, '03
Associate Dean for Admissions and Diversity
Associate Professor

TTUHSC School of Medicine
Lubbock, Texas

Upon completing his residency training in family medicine and pediatrics, Felix G. Morales, M.D., served as a staff physician at the Pecos County Memorial Hospital in Fort Stockton, Texas, and the Friona Rural Health Clinic in Friona, Texas, both of which are rural, underserved communities. During his time there, Morales was a chief resident for family medicine at the School of Medicine and received the Teaching Resident Award from the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. Morales returned to TTUHSC as an assistant professor and was later promoted to an associate professor in the School of Medicine as well as associate dean for admissions and diversity.

Morales quickly achieved academic prominence because of his personal drive, leadership and dedication to students and patients. As associate dean for admissions and diversity, Morales ensures the School of Medicine recruits a highly qualified and diverse class each year. Morales works with numerous individuals encouraging minorities and under-represented students to apply to medical school. His commitment to personal integrity, an inspiration for continuous improvement, teamwork and service beyond what is expected sets him apart.

Morales has earned a number of awards and recognitions throughout his career including the Berry N. Squyres Faculty Mentor Award and the Unsung Hero Award. Morales also has been granted admission to Omega Chi Epsilon Chemical Engineering Honor Society and Tau Beta Pi National Engineering Honor Society.


Image of Michelle Tarbox, MD

School of Medicine
Community Outreach Award

Michelle Tarbox, M.D., '05
Assistant Dean, Medical Student Affairs
TTUHSC School of Medicine
Texas Tech Physicians
Lubbock Texas

Michelle Tarbox, M.D., graduated first in her class from the School of Medicine and has played a pinnacle role in Lubbock’s medical community ever since. Tarbox has volunteered over 200 hours at the Free Clinic since 2014, published over 20 peer-reviewed articles along with four book chapters and has served as the president of the Lubbock County Medical Society.

Taxbox is a highly sought-after speaker at national and international meetings. She has received numerous honors and awards including a Presidential Citation from the American Academy of Dermatology and the TTUHSC School of Medicine Dean’s Clinical Teaching Award. She was named as Continental Who’s Who Pinnacle Professional and Doctor of Excellence and Leader in Healthcare.  She also has brought TTUHSC notoriety at several competitive leadership events including those hosted by the Texas Medical Association and the American Association of Medical Colleagues. In addition, Tarbox serves on the board of the Women’s Dermatologic Society, a national group furthering women in dermatology.

When Tarbox is not volunteering at the Free Clinic, she is in the classroom teaching. She tirelessly creates interactive and high-yield lectures for dermatology residents and medical students. Tarbox is always prepared for an impromptu educational opportunity, putting exceptional effort into every “teachable moment.” Nationally, Tarbox is known for her ability to teach concepts for board prep, and she teaches multiple Maintenance of Certification lectures at national meetings.

When Tarbox is not volunteering at the Free Clinic, she is in the classroom teaching. She tirelessly creates interactive and high-yield lectures for dermatology residents and medical students. Tarbox is always prepared for an impromptu educational opportunity putting exceptional effort into every “teachable moment.” Nationally, Tarbox is known for her ability to teach concepts for board prep, and she teaches multiple Maintenance of Certification lectures at national meetings.

In her free time, you can find Tarbox performing in musicals and community theater.


Image of Larry Warmoth, MD

School of Medicine
Distinguished Alumni Award

Larry Warmoth, M.D., '92
Lubbock Nephrology Associates, Covenant Health
Clinical Faculty
TTUHSC School of Medicine
Lubbock, Texas

Larry Warmoth, M.D., has served in various roles throughout his career both as a physician and in the military. After receiving his Doctor of Medicine from the School of Medicine, Warmoth completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of Arizona, where he was selected as chief resident. While in Arizona, Warmoth also completed his flight surgery training and graduated from F-16 flight training.

In 2002, Warmoth returned to TTUHSC for a nephrology fellowship and stayed in Lubbock, Texas, to work for Covenant Health. Warmoth served as chief of staff for a year, vice chief of staff for two years and chief of medicine for eight years.

If you have ever been at a Texas Tech football game and experienced the F-16 flyover, more than likely Warmoth was part of it. Warmoth, who earned the Army’s Legion of Merit Award, has served as a F-16 pilot in the Army Air National Guard for many years. His duties include commander of the 149th Medical Group, 149th Fighter Wing and the Expeditionary Medical Contingency Management Force, which can respond within 24 hours to natural or man-made disasters.

During his time in the Air Force, Warmoth earned his Wings of Gold and was the Distinguished Graduate in his F-14A Tomcat course. Additionally, Warmoth served in the Marine Corps, Navy and Texas Air National Guard. 

Warmoth has assisted the TTUHC School of Medicine in a variety of roles. For three years, he took the lead as a fundraiser for the Stethoscopes for Students program by soliciting colleagues’ support for this program. Warmoth has also served as a community liaison for the School of Medicine and TTUHSC by promoting the missions and philanthropic efforts in every opportunity. 

Throughout his career, Warmoth has been given numerous awards and presentations. He has been published four times and served on a number of medical committees and societies. Warmoth inspires young residents as he works to ensure they become the best physicians they can possibly be and, as a member of the Armed Services, he has inspired countless young men and women to fight for our country.


Image of Cyndi Kidd, DNP

School of Nursing
Community Advocacy Award

Cynthia “Cyndi” Kidd, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, PMHNP-BS, ’15
First Response Psychiatry
Healing Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel (H.E.L.P.)
Arlington, Texas

Cynthia “Cyndi” Kidd, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, PMHNP-BS, was board certified both as an acute care nurse practitioner and psychiatric mental-health nurse practitioner. Prior to becoming a nurse, she worked as an emergency medical technician (EMT) and firefighter. With over a decade of experience in the emergency, trauma and psychiatry fields, Kidd discovered a particular interest in helping first responders manage post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

After obtaining her Doctorate of Nursing Practice from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing, Kidd started her own business and helped form a nonprofit organization for first responders. Both First Response Psychiatry, her business, and HELP (Healing Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel), the nonprofit, provide services to first responders to help them cope with trauma, PTSD and other work-related stress.

Kidd was a voice for those first responders that may be overlooked. She served as a strong advocate for mental health funding and emphasized the importance of diagnosing PTSD. Kidd worked tirelessly to help first responders in need with dealing with their traumatic experiences and guided them though the associated symptoms of PTSD.

Her passion was contagious and inspired many others. She was key in bringing access to care and innovation by managing high risk mental health populations, developing community provider collaboration such as HELP, working with first responder agencies, and mentoring student nurse practitioners in the specialty of mental health.

Although Kidd lost her battle with cancer January 18, 2019, her efforts in advocating for the community continues today through HELP. Many people have witnessed amazing practice changes Kidd made in advocating for mental health services in her community. Kidd was committed to her profession and would have stopped at nothing to continue advocating for mental health services and funding for first responders on a national level.


Image of Gordon Mattimoe, DNP

School of Nursing
Excellence in Clinical Care Award

Gordon Mattimoe, DNP, FNP-C, '16, '12
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
Andrews County Health Department
Andrews, Texas

After graduating with his Doctorate in Nursing Practice from the School of NursingGordon Mattimoe, DNP, FNP-C, decided to provide care in the rural and underserved community of Andrews, Texas. When he is not busy in Andrews, he can be found teaching as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Texas Permian Basin.  

Mattimoe has been active in nursing for over 22 years. He began his nursing career working in the trauma/emergency field in Las Vegas Nevada. Mattimoe then continued his career by enlisting in the U.S. Army where he served as a licensed vocational nurse/medical specialist and participated in multiple deployments including Desert Shield, Provide Comfort and Desert Storm.

Since 2012, Mattimoe has been making the daily 45-minute commute one-way from his home in Odessa, Texas, to his clinical practice in Andrews. His passion to help all patients, no matter their financial status, drives him to continue serving the residents of a rural community.

Whether it’s forming a coalition group or leading a workshop providing up-to-date recommendations, Mattimoe is always initiating education, wellness and holistic practices. He often has as many as four students working with him as they move through physical assessment and the final primary courses/practicum.

When there are no funds for a referral to specialists, he tirelessly and methodically works until a solution is found for his patient. Although Mattimoe is a man of few words, he humbly provides excellence in the provision of care to his clients daily.


Image of Yvette Woody, MSN

School of Nursing
Leadership in Health Care Award

Yvette Woody, MSN, BSN, ’11, ’07
RN Chief Quality Officer
Odessa Regional Medical Center
Odessa, Texas

Yvette Woody, MSN, BSN, began her career 30 years ago as a vocational nurse. After 17 years of working a variety of specialties, Woody decided to further her education by obtaining associate’s degrees in biology and nursing.

She went on to earn bachelor’s in nursing from the School of Nursing. In 2010, Gov. Rick Perry and his wife, Anita Thigpen Perry, honored Woody with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Scholarship at the Texas Conference for Women. Woody used the scholarship to pursue her master’s degree in nursing at School of Nursing.

Today, she holds several senior leadership positions at Odessa Regional Medical Center and also serves as a voting delegate in the Texas Nurses Association.

Woody has always had an eagerness for education. Since obtaining her MSN, Woody has become a certified instructor for basic life support, advanced cardiac life support and pediatric advanced life support courses.

Patient safety is of the utmost importance to Woody. She used her time as interim chief nursing officer to introduce many patient safety initiatives. She also took the time to provide leadership in staffing, handle patient safety issues, manage physicians/staff relations, convert the labor and delivery and critical cardiac care units to secure units for patient and staff safety, and expedited a “panic button” in the emergency department.

Woody recognizes the return on investment of teaching student nurses at all levels and is excited to have the opportunity to help students earn their MSN. She has been a preceptor for the School of Nursing MSN students and has been invited to lecture for bachelor’s degree students in the Permian Basin. Students often seek out Woody for her nursing leadership and her eagerness to help nurses advance their education and encouragement to peruse their own leadership positions.


Image of Ilka Ratsaphangthong, PharmD

School of Pharmacy
Distinguished Leadership Award

Ilka Ratsaphangthong, Pharm.D., MHA, BCPS, ’02
Director of Pharmacy
Methodist Dallas Medical Center
Dallas, Texas

Clinical Assistant Professor (Pharmacy Practice)

TTUHSC Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy
Dallas, Texas

Practitioner-Faculty Member, Clinical Instructor 

University of Texas College of Pharmacy 
 Austin, Texas

Ilka Ratsaphangthong, Pharm.D., MHA, BCPS, graduated with honors and received her Doctor of Pharmacy from the Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy in Amarillo. She is now the director of pharmacy at Methodist Dallas Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. Ratsaphangthong also serves as a clinical assistant professor for the TTUHSC Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy in Dallas, Texas, and is a practitioner-faculty member and clinical instructor at the University of Texas College of Pharmacy in Austin, Texas.

Over the past 16 years, Ratsaphangthong has worked on multiple research projects and has been asked to present at events across the country. She is a current member of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and the Texas Society of Health-System Pharmacists. She has also earned numerous awards including the Methodist Health System Partners in Excellence Award, given in recognition of an employee who demonstrates a commitment to excellence in the strategic areas of quality, value, service and growth.

Ratsaphangthong is always looking to support future pharmacists and recently participated in the Sponsor a White Coat program at TTUHSC. Through this program she was paired with a first-year pharmacy student and provided a new white coat for her student when they started pharmacy school.

Ratsaphangthong is described as a “supportive, positive and highly influential leader” and provides a “warm, welcoming and positive attitude” at Methodist Dallas Medical Center.